Yu Yan Chen's debut collection takes us on a wandering across continents. Whether it is a courtyard in rural China, a ferry in Istanbul, or Times Square in New York, each poem is an unbeaten track imbued with the poet’s at once intense but refreshing insights about family, home, identity and the quest for inner strength.
The opening verse asks the readers to imagine guitar legend Djongo Reinhardt's fingers grinding the strings after two of them were badly burned in a fire, and "every nerve aflame" is the
prelude to poems that transcend memories and losses into melodies of hope and light. These distilled joys and fears, set against the backdrops of Yu Yan Chen's creative use of language and her cinematic visions, will transport the readers to a passionate
conversation about the essence of being alive. The poems in small hours will light up your sky and bring flowers to your table.
In this wonderful collision of cultures and realities, Yu Yan Chen roller-coasts round the world, collecting and discarding personalities and places. From Brooklyn to Bristol and beyond, she constantly pulls us into her own unique, expansive vision of life, her language rich, sensuous and surprising. This is poetry that shakes us up, takes us to new perspectives that widen our understanding of the way things are. The poetry flows like a river and carries us with it, glad to be travelling.
Among the four-hundred-and-fifty thousand Chinese New Yorkers Yu Yan Chen's is undeniably a unique and memorable voice. The voice is as profoundly American as it is Chinese. It has wit and charm and, above all else, subversion.